DeLisle leaves firefighters union for international association

July 26, 1992|By Michael A. Fletcher | Michael A. Fletcher,Staff Writer

Jeffrey DeLisle, the outspoken president of the Baltimore firefighters union and a thorn in the side of city administrations for more than 11 years, has taken a new job as a staff representative with the International Association of Fire Fighters.

"I have mixed emotions about leaving," said Mr. DeLisle, who assumed his new post last week. "But I am not really going far. I'll be with the union in a consulting capacity."

In his new job, Mr. DeLisle will advise local fire unions on labor problems. And, initially, at least, he will continue to hold down his job as a city firefighter, although he is currently on an extended leave and may retire once it expires.

Mr. DeLisle was elected president of Baltimore Fire Fighters Union Local 734 in 1981. He won the membership substantial pay and benefit increases, even as the city struggled with fiscal problems.

"We progressed financially further under his tenure than ever before," said William V. Taylor, who was named acting president of Local 734. "A lot of that has to do with his leadership."

The 1,400-member union is scheduled to elect Mr. DeLisle's successor in October.

As union president, Mr. DeLisle had a charismatic style and rarely backed down from controversy.

Last November, he led an election eve demonstration of firefighters outside City Hall that angered Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. Also last year, the union went to court to fight to keep a 6 percent wage increase won in arbitration. The city had attempted to hold back the pay raise because of its ongoing fiscal crisis. But the union prevailed in court.

Last fall, the union decided to forgo this year's wage increase in exchange for a promise from Mr. Schmoke to spare the jobs of the 252 firefighters who were slated to be fired because of budget cuts.

"I am going to miss him," said city Personnel Director Jesse E. Hoskins, who often negotiated opposite Mr. DeLisle. "He is a very fine negotiator who represented his members very well.

Mr. Taylor notes that he has a different style than does Mr. DeLisle. "I'm very low-key," he said. "I believe through this period [DeLisle's tenure] there were a lot of ill feelings created and I have to heal some wounds."

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